Marlon Byrd's $8 million option will not vest. The Giants drove the car toward the canyon at 100 mph, just to get a reaction from us in the back seat, laughing the whole time. Then they stopped short and called us babies for freaking out. Well, I never.
While Byrd at $8 million was too much, it wouldn't have sunk the Giants' offseason. It just would have made it a little harder to accomplish the obvious offseason goal of rotation renovation. The risk was that Byrd would contribute to budget concerns that would keep the Giants in the Ian Kennedy Outlet Store. The reward was that the Giants would have a 38-year-old outfielder with 20-homer power. The Giants' reticence to let the option vest suggests they were a little scared of that risk. As they should have been. Gulp.
But I'm cool with Byrd on a 25-man roster, alright. Here are the last five outfielders to come out of the Giants' farm system and hit 15 home runs in a season:
- Pedro Feliz, 2005
- Marvin Benard, 1999/2001
- Chili Davis, several times
- Jack Clark, several times
- Gary Thomasson, 1977
So you can't just assume the Giants will turn one of their young outfielders into a power threat, even if one of them got a fifth of a way to 15 home runs in a single game. Developing outfielders with even modest power isn't something they've been good at for, oh, 30 years or so.
But Byrd comes at a relative power discount because of low on-base percentages and 38-year-old defense. He's an imperfect solution to the Giants' dearth of power. So it's time to decide just how much you think he fits on the 2016 roster. There are three options ...
Option #1: Do what it takes
If you're in this group, you're smitten with the guy and what he offers. You're secretly bummed that the Giants aren't bringing him back at $8 million, because you think he's going to get more than that on the open market.
You might be right. Dingers cost money, and the dinger store is filled with nothing but empty shelves and dented cans. I could see Byrd getting two years, $12 million, which would be a lower annual salary, but a longer commitment and more total money. Is the $2 million saved on the 2016 salary worth that extra year? Or is the extra year a feature, not a bug? They say a Byrd on the roster is worth two in fr
People in here would want the Giants to match that two-year offer from another team because you have dinger fever. Then you would complain that the Giants should have left the option vest.
Option #2: Offer him a one-year deal for less money, let him walk if needed
Dingers are nice! But they don't give an award to the top homer-hitting team in the majors every year. And if the Giants are interested in a power-hitting fourth outfielder with OBP issues who's teetering at the top of age mountain, they shouldn't pay more than $4 million or so for him. The potential reward of Byrd coming back is real, but the risk isn't just manifested in what his salary prevents the Giants from doing. There's a risk that he stinks next year, too.
A Pence/Pagan/Blanco/Byrd/Aoki quintet next year is mighty appealing, especially now that Angel Pagan looks like a playable baseball player again. There's depth in the event of injuries, and there are real hitters off the bench in the late innings in the unlikely event of full strength. But we're still talking about an extra outfielder for a team that needs to focus on the rotation. Too much money on that spare part would be a shame.
Option #3: Nope
You'll notice that the listed quintet up there doesn't include Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson, both of whom could fill the role quite capably. Mostly, though, you're looking at Byrd's age and lack of OBP and thinking nope, nope, nope. Things are going to get worse in that capacity before they get better. Oh, and things will almost certainly never, ever get better, because that's not how baseball aging works.
If you're in here, you're correctly assuming that Byrd isn't going to sign for a $1 million deal or something super-cheap. So when you're saying "nope," that doesn't mean that you're against Byrd on the 25-man roster at all. Just for the salary he'll command.
There's a poll. If I remember to include it. So vote in it. If it's there. Which it probably isn't.
I'm in the second camp, as befitting a compulsive waffler. Williamson in Triple-A for another year is probably preferable to four at-bats every week in the majors, and the same goes for Parker. Both of them could be swell insurance policies, and the Giants will almost certainly need to count on one of them next year, regardless. Getting an extra veteran outfielder makes sense.
It's just not a priority. Byrd on the roster is a net positive, most likely, but if the bidding gets wacky, the Giants going with in-house options and satiating my David Price obsession (okay, fine, or getting any quality pitchers at all) wouldn't bother me one bit. Hopefully, though, the price will be reasonable, and the Giants can have it all.
I like when the Giants have it all. It's been so very long.